Pulling together: Superstars help Partners

Noah Otero-Bemis of Fruita practices just before the tug of war competition at the Partners Superstars event at Lincoln Park Sunday.



Cameron Reece, left,  and Ryan Olson of The Crossroads fitness team exchange a wet shirt in the clothing exchange relay swim competition at the Partners Superstars event at Lincoln Park today



How quickly people undress is sometimes more important than how fast they swim.

One of the final events of the Mesa County Partners Superstars competition —  and maybe the most entertaining — was a relay race Sunday in the Lincoln Park-Moyer Pool. Team members swam the length of the pool wearing T-shirts and boxer shorts, which they had to remove and put on team members who swam the next leg in the race.

Every competitor wore a swimsuit underneath the wet T-shirt and shorts, but the ease — or difficulty — people had in taking off and putting on oversize wet clothes was enough to make

Joe Higgins, director of Partners, shake his head in laughter.

The relay race was just one athletic competition that was part of the Superstars event during the weekend. The two-day event has been held for the past 29 years.

“I had a full head of hair when this thing started,” Higgins joked, rubbing his bald head.

Superstars typically raises $40,000 to $50,000 for Partners. Each team has to pay at least $1,000 to participate. Most teams pay more. This year, 17 teams participated.

The Redlands Rotary Club was the top fundraising organization for Superstars this year, paying $13,000 to enter the competition.

But the closest Redlands Rotary club member Jeff Wendland came to water Sunday was the water bottle he was drinking from. When asked why he didn’t get in the pool to take part in the swimming races during Superstars, Wendland said, “that’s what kids are for.” He said the best events for the older Redlands Rotarians are “team pictures and the barbecue.”

Joking aside, Wendland said the Redlands Rotary Club isn’t a large organization, so members typically like to donate one lump sum to one nonprofit group. They have selected
Partners multiple times because members believe it “makes a difference in our community,” Wendland said.

Partners helps local youth through its mentoring, conservation corps and juvenile restitution programs.

Tim Leon, a retired police officer who served as a school resource officer in Grand Junction and Fruita for 16 years, has seen youth benefit from working with Partners. It’s one reason why he was co-captain of the Cops 4 Kids team this year. For the past 24 or 25 years, members of the Grand Junction and Fruita police departments, the Colorado State Patrol and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department have taken turns on a Superstars team.

Just don’t expect officers to excel in all Superstars competitions, Leon said. “Let’s just say if you ever want to be saved by a police officer, look to the Fire Department,” Leon said, pointing to the pool.


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